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* The Christies of Skateraw, Muchalls, Cowie, Findon & Downies*

Updated July 20, 2011

The Christies of Skateraw

(A pdf A pdf file of ‘The Christies of Skateraw’ is available, free, from Simply send an e-mail, on registering, with the word ‘Skateraw’ and the pdf will be e-mailed within 24 hours.)

Christies of Skateraw Norse Vikings — Official!
According to Oxford Ancestors' database my Christie Y-Line genetic code 16, 13, 24, 11, 11, 13, 10, 17, 12, 11 is one they recognise as being Viking. For a Y-Line chromosome to qualify as Viking, it must be common in Norway and very rare in those parts of Britain not influenced by Norse Vikings (Hegalson et al., 'Estimating Scandinavian and gaelic ancestry in the male settlers in Iceland.' American Journal of Human Genetics, Vol 67, pp717, 2000). The genetic signature of my Y-chromosome is inherited, virtually unaltered, from my father, Albert Christie 1915-1974, my grandfather, John Christie (1870-1951), my great grandfather, Andrew Christie (1832-1880), Gt. gt, grandfather, Andrew Christie (1809-1882) Gt. Gt .gt grandfather William Christie (b17??) and from his paternal ancestors down through the ages.

The chart can be seen below in the family photos section.

It would be useful and interesting to compare the Y-chromosomes of other Christies and Skateraw families. According to Professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford Ancestors Y-chromosomes do follow surnames and that there is a good likelihood all Christies share a common ancestor.

For further information on Y-Line signatures contact

I am researching the kinship network of the Christie family of Skateraw (now Newtonhill) Kincardineshire, Scotland. The earliest record we have is of Andrew CHRISTIE (b. 1809, Skaterow, Fetteresso, Kincardine - d. 20.7.1882, New St Stonehaven - son of William CHRISTIE, Whitefisher and Martha MIDDLETON) who married Mary McLEOD (1810-1866 - daughter of Daniel McLEOD, Labourer and Mary DAVIDSON )

Andrew and Mary had four sons - all Whitefishers: Peter CHRISTIE (1836, 53 Skaterow - drowned 21.4.1880); Thomas CHRISTIE (b 1834 - drowned 21.4.1880), married to Christian MASSON 48 Skaterow; William CHRISTIE, married to Margaret Leiper (34 Skaterow) and Andrew CHRISTIE, my great-great garndfather (1832 - drowned 21.4.1880) married 1861 to Janet MASSON (b1837-d.1882) of Muchalls (daughter of George MASSON, Whitefisher

Andrew and Janet had six children: Andrew CHRISTIE (1862- drowned 21.4.1880); George (b 1864); Mary (b 1875); Janet (b 1873); James (b 1868) and my grandfather John CHRISTIE who married Helen WOOD who had been brought up by George WOOD and Isabella LEIPER.

This generation of CHRISTIES and MASSONS were painted in 1865 by the Victorian artist George Washington BROWNLOW mending their nets, at home in Skaterow; they were also used as models in Brownlow's more famous painting 'Baptismal Ceremony at the Tolbooth, Stonehaven'. Most of the Christies up to this generation are buried in the 7th century St Mary of the Storms Kirkyard on the clifftop north of Cowie on Stonehaven Bay, facing the North Sea (or the German Sea as it was known at the time).

With the advent of steam trawlers in the 1880s, John and Helen CHRISTIE, my grandparents, moved to WOOD Street, Torry, Aberdeen, where they had 14 children: Janet (1900-1984); John (1897-1941); James (1902-1940); Peter (m Ada); William (m Jeannie); Thomas (m Madge); Andrew (m Lottie); George (m Bessie); Annie (emigrated to USA); Mary (m John LEDINGHAM); Helen (m John ALLAN); Joseph (m Ella HOGG); Bella (m William CHRISTIE); Albert CHRISTIE (b 1915-d 1974) - my father who married Olive RING in Glasgow in 1945. Most, if not all the nine brothers, were line-fishermen, a family occupation which died with the last of them in 1974.


Stuart Christie

PO Box 35
Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2UX
Great Britain-England
Fax: 01424 442913

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GEDCOM Trees (viewing trees requires 4.0 or later)

  • The Christies of Skateraw (27 KB)
    The kinship network of the Christie family of Skateraw, Fetteresso, Kincardineshire from c1800

Family Photos

  • The Christies, Family portrait - Torry, 1916-1917 (560 KB)
    FAMILY PORTRAIT - 1916/17: Back row, L to R - William, Bella, Andrew, Janet, Bessy (wife of George), George. Second row, L to R - Helen (wife and mother), William, Helen, James, Peter, John (father). Front row, L to R - Joseph (on mother's lap), Thomas, Annie, Mary, Albert (seated on father's lap)
  • Fishermen (661 KB)
    Family photograph provided by Helen Christie, supposedly at Downies. The only person identified is Alexander 'Souter' Christie (born 21 Nov 1863), on the left at the back with the peaked cap. Possibly taken in the 1880s.
  • John and Helen Christie (nee Wood), Torry, 1949 (356 KB)
    THIRTY YEARS ON: Grandparents John Christie (died 17 June, 1951) - who lost his father and four of his family as a result of the Great Storm of 1880; his mother died two years later - with wife, Helen Christie (née Wood) (died 30 October 1950). The photo was probably taken around 1949 at 11 Wood Street, Torry. (NB George's wife, Bessy, is not in the photograph on wall)
  • Margaret Christie (wife of Alexander Wood) (986 KB)
    Margaret Christie (1871-19??), wife of Alexander Wood. The young woman in the middle is their daughter, also Margaret, who was married to William Cormack.
  • John, Helen, Thomas and Albert Christie c 1919 (377 KB)
    John and Helen Christie with sons Thomas (l) and Albert (r) (c.1919)
  • Skaterow, No 27 (142 KB)
    Home of the Massons
  • A young Helen Wood (18 Wood Street) (208 KB)
    Helen WOOD at 18 Wood Street. The tall man on the right was a John CHRISTIE (no relation?) who lived upstairs at 30 Wood Street. He was unmarried
  • Cowie Kirkyard: St Mary of the Storms (572 KB)
    ST MARY OF THE STORMS: Within the sheltering walls of the St Mary of the Storms kirkyard rest many who depended on the North Sea for their livelihood. Numerous tombstones, some adorned with ships and anchors, stand in memory of seamen and fishermen. The kirkyard was the burial ground for Skaterow and Muchalls as well as Cowie.
  • Skaterow - The shore (179 KB)
    At the bottom of Skaterow Road is the Braehead where one can look out at the North Sea. The cliff path to the beach is now an easy stroll since the construction of a good path by the Newtonhill Village Association in the 1980s. Before that time it was muddy and steep. The remains of the old pier can be seen at low tide. It was demolished for safety reasons in the early 1980s. In the bay you will see eider ducks. There are still fishermen's huts, mainly for pleasure now, though a few boats still put out to sea for lobster and crabs.
  • Fetteresso/Banchory Devenick coastline (1337 KB)
    Map of Kincardineshire coastline, c 1822 Cowie to Nigg
  • A 'fisher' wife (321 KB)
    The cod and ling were dried on the cliffs, then salted and carried by the women the twelve miles to Aberdeen on a Friday to be sold at the Green. In the days of the Skaterow fishing fleet the women would carry heavy creels of fish on their backs up a steep and muddy cliff path from the beach, with the men following behind, carrying their oars and, hanging over them, their long lines with eight or nine hundred hooks. The women would collect mussels and bait each hook every time the men went out fishing.
  • Skaterow shore. Looking up to the village (156 KB)
    Note the old pullies - used to pull the boats out of the water.
  • Plan of Torry (1901) (1649 KB)
    Street plan of Torry with Wood Street and harbour. Family tradition has it that on her wedding day, Helen Wood was waiting for the horse and cart to take her to the church at her brother George's house in Baker Street, Torry, but the transport went instead to Baker Street in Aberdeen, thus making her late for her wedding. The story goes that because of the mix-up they renamed Baker Street, Torry to Wood Street. Baker Street is on the 1891 Census records, possibly the fishermen's cottages on the left side of what is now Wood Street. John and Helen brought up a family of 14 at 32 Wood Street, Torry. George, Andrew, William, John, James, Peter, Thomas, Albert, Joseph, Annie, Bella, Janet, Helen and Mary. Seven of the nine boys became fishermen. James (b. 1902 - d. 1940) and John (b. 1897 - d. 1941) were killed by enemy action
  • Skaterow village painting (276 KB)
    Painting by unknown artist
  • Albert Christie (1972) (206 KB)
    Albert Christie (1915-1974) on his final boat, Fisheries vessel 'Explorer'.
  • The Christies of Skaterow, GW Brownlow, 1865 (486 KB)
    In 1865, the artist George Washington Brownlow painted the Christie family mending fishing nets at home in Skaterow. The painting allegedly depicts the Christie family, father (Andrew) and a young man, possibly son Andrew junior, seated on a wooden stool repairing a fishing net in their 'but and ben' (ie, a small house with a door in the middle, in the front of the house, leading into a short lobby off of which there were two facing rooms) while Andrew junior's young wife (Janet Masson) combs her hair by the light of the small sash window and the young child looks on. Nets and chains hang from the overhead rafters with a floor of beaten earth. If the family tradition is correct and that the woman combing her hair is Janet Masson, the interior is likely to be be that of 23 Skaterow, where according to the records, the Christies were living at the time. The whereabouts of the original of this painting is unknown.
  • Rear Window view from 18 Wood Street (pre-1960) (216 KB)
    The view from the 'backie' of 18 Wood street, Torry. Photograph was taken prior to 1960)
  • The Christie Tartan (1487 KB)
    The Christie tartan is, for an unknown reason, closely based on patterns commonly called 'Prince Charles Edward Stuart' and 'Royal Stewart'
  • Skaterow (Skateraw) 1929 (376 KB)
    Skaterow {or Skateraw], a seventeenth century fishing village about four miles north of Garron Point (now Newtonhill) was a collection of houses consisting of little more than a single grassy road of fisher cottages with open drains. It was perched on the brow of a cliff, with its harbour below at the mouth of the Elsick Burn, where a gravelly beach afforded a good landing place for small boats. The houses, crowded together on land of little use to landowners, were laid out in neat rows and sometimes gable-end on to the sea, but seldom with any garden space and only narrow footpaths separating the houses. In 1855 there were fifty fishermen in Skateraw, and a fleet of twenty six boats - including eleven drifters and fifteen yawls. Over a hundred and fifty persons were employed in fishing related activities in the hamlet.
  • The Main connection? (168 KB)
    THE MAIN CONNECTION: This woman's surname was Main, possibly the widow of Peter Christie and the mother of Margaret Christie?
  • Christie of Skateraw digital Y-Line genetic code (264 KB)
    Stuart Christie (b.1946) digital Y-Line code: 16 13 24 11 11 13 10 17 12 11 I have now received from Oxford Ancestors my L-Line certificate which provides the genetic signature of my Y-chromosome inherited from my father, Albert Christie 1915-1974, my grandfather, John Christie (1870-1951), my great grandfather, Andrew Christie (1832-1880), Gt. gt, grandfather, Andrew Christie (1809-1882) Gt. Gt .gt grandfather William Christie (b17??) and presumably from his ancestors. The chart can be seen below. It would be useful and interesting to compare the Y-chromosomes of other Christies and Skateraw families. According to Professor Bryan Sykes of Oxford Ancestors Y-chromosomes do follow surnames and that there is a good likelihood all Christies share a common ancestor. For further information on Y-Line signatures contact
  • Victoria Rd School, Torry, 1922 (2441 KB)
    MISS Annie Craib was the teacher in this picture of Victoria Road School in 1922. It was sent in to the Aberdeen Evening Express by Hetty Milne of Wood Street, Torry, who was known then as Hetty Hoilier. Hetty is second from right in the second row and she remembers all the names of her classmates. Front row: Simpson Gilmore, Mary Craig, Ina Leiper, Annie Leiper, Eliza Lemon, Agnes Walker. Second row: Bessie Walker, Maggie Knowles, Lizzie Mclntyre, Helen ^Walker, Lizzie Watt, Ina Sweeney, Hetty Hollier, Agnes Angus. Third row: Willy Gray, Hendry Findlay, Tommy Gribble, Jim Garden, George Caie, Jim Davidson, George Leiper, Albert Thompkins, Jim Carnegie. Back row: Davie Thowlas, Jim Ross, John Connel, Albert Christie, Alex Walker, Jim Wood, A1fie Couttie, Jim Milton, John Wood.
  • Fisher cottages, 11 Wood Street, Torry (264 KB)
    John and Helen died within months of each other in the upstairs bedroom at 11 Wood Street in 1950-51, across the road from where they first set up home almost 60 years before. By the time of their deaths in 1950-52 approximately thirty five great line fishing boats sailed from Torry Dock. This was the generation of Torry fishermen who pioneered the great linefishing on the banks at Faroe, Iceland, Greenland and Rockall. With a range as far as the Davis Straits, near Greenland, they could fish for larger, more commercial fish such as halibut - as well as larger quantities of cod, skate and ling. By the mid 60s, however, the 1965-66, the fleet had dwindled to only four 'liners' fishing. By 1969, Albert Christie - who had earned his 'skipper's' ticket in 1950 - had left the trawlers and was working as a seaman for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on their research vessel 'Explorer', sharing a cabin with brother Thomas Christie. With their deaths in the mid-70s ended the long seafaring tradition of the Christies of Skaterow
  • Albert Christie 1 (838 KB)
    Albert Christie as a young man (c 1935)
  • Torry birthplace (1 KB)
    The completion of a new South Breakwater in 1874 on the south side of the River Dee, in the parish of Nigg, facing Aberdeen across the bay, was the first stage in the rise to prosperity of the small fishing village of Torry. Built of concrete blocks and extending 1000 feet seawards and close to the Girdleness Lighthouse, Torry harbour provided an ideal safe haven for fishermen, particularly the new trawlers, which began fishing from there in the 1870s. The arrival of the first steam trawler in Torry, The Toiler, in 1882 signalled the end for the small line-fisherman and his sailing yawl. The line and herring fishermen of Torry and Footdee argued forcefully against the threat this new mode of fishing presented to their livelihoods and a Commission was set up in 1883 to consider their complaints, but the writing was on the wall and the Commission found in favour of trawl fishing. The Christies, along with the Woods and many of the other fishing families from the fishing communities south of Aberdeen, moved up the coast to Torry. So many fisherfolk migrated to Torry during this time eager to take advantage of the new distant-water opportunities offered by steam that between 1881 and 1901, the population of Torry rose from 1117 to over 9300. It was due to the influx of these predominantly Episcopalian fishing families to Torry that St Peter's Scottish Episcopal Church was built in 1893. John Christie - son of Andrew Christie sen., and Janet Wood, born in Skateraw in 1870 - was one of the new breed of steam trawlermen. In 1892 he married Helen Wood (born in 1874) at St Nicholas Church, Torry, Aberdeen. Family tradition has it that on her wedding day, Helen Wood was waiting for the horse and cart to take her to the church at her brother George's house in Baker Street, Torry, but the transport went instead to Baker Street in Aberdeen, thus making her late for her wedding. The story goes that because of the mix-up they renamed Baker Street, Torry to Wood St
  • James Masson and his wife Isabella (M.S. Christie) (358 KB)
    James Masson and wife Isabella (Christie) outside their home at 27 Skaterow
  • Yawls - traditional NE fishing boats (388 KB)
    YAWLS: The boats used for fishing were open, without a deck, but with a place for a mast and a sail. Decks were fitted, with a small cabin below, when the men went further afield. The large boats were known as "Skaffies' but as gradually the decked and half-decked boats emerged they became known as 'Baldies', 'Fifies' and Zulus'.
  • Baptism From Stonehaven Jail (1 KB)
    An incident in the persecution of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1746 painted by George Washington Brownlow. (See also the file 'Notes on the Baptism...' below) A4 and A3 size artprints are available from George Masson at All profits will go to the upkeep of St Ternan's (Muchalls) Church. The event portrayed in Brownlow's painting took place during the winter of 1748-49. The Episcopalians of the time were mainly Jacobite and after the unsuccessful 1745 Rising severe restrictions were placed on Episcopalian clergy because of the church's support for the Jacobite cause. Forbidden to meet together for worship in groups larger than four, both priests and congregation members faced imprisonment if found guilty. Despite this, Episcopalians managed to find ways of holding services. This was often achieved by having the priest standing in the lobby of a house, with four people in each room leading off the lobby listening to the service, thereby keeping within the strict letter of the law. In 1748 three local clergymen6 were arrested and put on trial at the Stonehaven Tolbooth: The Rev. Alexander Greig of Stonehaven, Rev. John Petries of Drumlithie and Rev. John Troup of Muchalls. All were accused of having ministered to congregations larger than the legal size. In spite of an appeal that the witnesses, by being present at the services, had incriminated themselves, the three clergy were imprisoned in Stonehaven Tolbooth for six months during the winter of 1748-49. The Rev. Alexander Greig continued to minister to his Stovehaven congregation through the Tolbooth's prison bars. Rev. John Troup baptised a number of infants through the prison bars. The fisherman's wives from Skateraw would bring their babies secretly to be baptised through the prison bars, walking along the foreshore, wading across the 'Water-Yett' and clambering over the rocks to reach the#
  • Andrew Christie of Skateraw Village. (64 KB)
    Andrew Christie, born 5 August 1809, Whitefisher. Died 20 July 1882. Husband of Mary McLeod, born 1810 - died at 34 Skateraw 9 March 1866. Father of Andrew Christie, born 23 June, 1832; drowned 21 April 1889 with his brothers Peter, Thomas, William, his son Andrew and brother in law John Wood on the 'Brothers of Skateraw'. Painting by George Smith
  • The 'backie' - 18 Wood St, Torry (522 KB)
    COUSINS: Stuart Christie (l) with cousin Joe Wood (r) at the foot of the 'sixteen stairs' 'backie' at 18 Wood Street, Torry (September 1998). In the late 1940s, Stuart's mother opened the outwardly opening door not knowing her son was behind it, accidentally sending him tumbling down all sixteen stairs and scarring his face.
  • Skaterow, from the Station, Newtonhill (324 KB)
    Skaterow Road is the oldest street in the village and would formerly have been grassy with open drains. Until 1968 there were no street names, merely house numbers (eg 22 Skaterow, later 22 Newtonhill).
  • Torry School — class of (ca) 1889 (138 KB)
    Philippa Crabbe has sent us this school photograph of her grandfather, John Morrice (back row, extreme right), taken around 1889. John was born 17 March 1877. Philippa's mother was born at 18 Wood Street. Torry, in the first decade of the 1900s. Philippa's great grandmother was Agnes Main, dr of John Main and Margaret Craig. All her mother's direct line were fisherfolk with the usual names of Allan, Caie, Craig,Guyan, Main, Morrice, Robertson, Wood etc ....
  • George and Janet Wood (436 KB)
    George Wood (1895-???) and Janet Wood (Christie]) (1900-1984) (See file "Nae fish again")
  • 40 Downies (307 KB)
    The ruined building on the left is, again, No. 40
  • George Washington Brownlow 1 (86 KB)
    Photograph of the artist George Washington Brownlow at work (courtesy of Miss Joan Brownlow of Newcastle via George Masson)
  • Appeal for 1880 storm stories (539 KB)
    Photograph and interview with the late Suzi Buyers (d. Jan 2010) in Aberdeen Press and Journal, Friday April 21, 2000 (page 3).
  • George Washington Brownlow 2 (109 KB)
    Early photograph of the artist George Washington Brownlow at work, possibly in the 1860s (courtesy of Miss Joan Brownlow of Newcastle via George Masson of Muchalls)
  • Christies, Woods and Dicksons (922 KB)
    Albert Christie (back) with George Wood and (l/r) Helen Wood, Margaret Dickson (Helen's daughter) and Janet Wood (Christie)
  • Downies - Village and shoreline (297 KB)
    An aerial view
  • George and Janet Wood with Helen and Margaret (836 KB)
    George and Janet Wood (Christie) with daughters Helen and Margaret
  • Skaterow, No 33 (Today) (171 KB)
    Rear view of No 33 Skaterow. Home of Peter Christie, 1863
  • Skaterow, The Old 'Smoke House' (98 KB)
    Note the old fisher cottages, most of them now extended and harled, but with attractive fish scale tiles. On the right, next to number 16, stands the old Smokehouse, a low whitewashed building with a square black chimney. This is the oldest and last surviving smokehouse in the village and probably about 200 years old. Haddock were brought here to be smoked over wood, after gutting and cleaning in the spring that used to emerge from the top of the road. The fish was mostly for village use, but any surplus would be carried by the women the twelve miles to Aberdeen on a Friday to be sold at the Green. House No 31, is the nearest to the original design of a one-storey stone fisherman's cottage. The loft would have been used for storing nets and lines.

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Related Files

  • Politics and religion in North East Scotland (1 KB)
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    Margaret Wood (b. 1933, daughter of George and Janet [Christie]) recollects some memories of her childhood, growing up in Wood Street, in the fishing community of Torry (Aberdeen) of the 1930s and early 1940s
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  • The Havens of Fetteresso Parish: (1) Muchalls (10 KB)
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  • Notes from 'The Episcopal Chapel at Muchalls' by J (1 KB)
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  • The Havens of Fetteresso Parish: (2) Skateraw (4 KB)
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    The North East coast of Scotland was also a first landfall for the Norwegian Vikings who conquered and dominated the region from the late 8th Century until the end of the 11th Century, but whether the Pictish/Celtic Christies intermarried with the Vikings even earlier, no one knows.
  • The Havens of Fetteresso Parish: (3) Cowie (6 KB)
    The Seatown of Cowie by Bob Mathewson (A&NESFHS) The village of Cowie formerly known as the Seatown of Cowie is situated on the coast of Fetteresso Parish, North of the Cowie River where it approaches the shore in Stonehaven Bay. It is the most southerly fishing village of Fetteresso Parish lying within the estate of Cowie. The village was populated mainly by white fishermen adhering to the Episcopalian faith and therefore in the eighteenth century were likely to favour the Jacobite cause and the majority of the inhabitants were buried in the Churchyard of St Mary of the Storms just North of the village of Cowie.
  • BROWNLOW, George Washington (1835-1876) (4 KB)
    BROWNLOW, George Washington (1835-1876) Profile of this Victorian genre, portrait. landscape and religious painter in oil modeller
  • 'Christiecleek will come tae ye' (1 KB)
    'Christiecleek was a word of terror in Scotland for centuries, and was used effectively by mothers to frighten wayward children. 'The famines, wars and "anarchy" of the 14th century caused an outbreak of cannibalism in the Highlands. One of the leaders of a cannibal gang was, inappropriately enough, named Christie, and he used to carry a large iron cleek or hook to drag down his victims. He thus earned the above name. Christie is said to have escaped the law and to have ended his life as a prosperous merchant.' Source: Scots Proverbs and Rhymes. Selected, compiled and privately published by Forbes MacGregor, 1948.
    A poem by Andrew Christie, 1900-1994
  • Downies and Stranathro (Muchalls) (8 KB)
    An extract from 'One Foot in the Sea' by Robert Smith) The village of Downies, two miles south of Findon, is one of the few villages that still retain a flavour of the past.
  • Portlethen: fisher life, habits and intermarriage (21 KB)
    An M.D. Thesis on the fisher families of Portlethen (pop 340) in the early 1890s by Robert Haldane Cook, M.D., C.M. Portlethen. (Law Library, University of Aberdeen, 1895. Transcribed by Philippa Crabbe)
    A poem by Andrew Christie, 1900-1994
  • Visit to Skaterow and Downies 7/8 March 2000 (3 KB)
    A report by Suzi Buyers on visits to the fishing villages of Downies and Skaterow
    An appeal to Community District Councillors for financial support for the refurbishment of St Ternan's Scottish Episcopal Church, Muchalls
    A poem by Andrew Christie, 1900-1994
  • The Brownlow 'family' painting (3 KB)
    A report by the late Suzi Buyers (d. 2010) on the Brownlow 'family' painting following a visit to Helen Christie, April 2000
    A poem by Andrew Christie, 1900-1994
  • The Gale of April 1880 (4 KB)
    The Late Gale — Ninetween Lives Lost. A report from The Stonehaven Journal, Thursday, April 29, 1880
  • A wash tub full of whisky (8 KB)
    James P Christie recalls a fisher lifestyle that has vanished by Sheila Hamilton (Aberdeen Evening Express, January 22, 1976) (With thanks to Brian R Miller, Newtonhill)

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